Just because you rush through it each morning before work doesn't mean it isn't worth savoring on the last day of the week. Here are six ways to elevate the ritual—no badger-hair brush required.
1. Wash Your Face
A good scrub will get rid of pore-clogging dead skin cells and lift whiskers away from your face. Clinique for Men's Face Scrub (1) has the added benefit of helping treat existing ingrown hairs with salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant.
2. Embrace the Hot Towel
"It opens the pores, swells the skin, and softens the hair," says Matty Conrad, a 16-year veteran barber who owns Victory Barber & Brand, in Victoria, Canada. He suggests running a washcloth under hot water, adding a few drops of Jurlique's Eucalyptus Pure Essential Oil (2), and leaving it on for a minute.
3. Heat and Lather
Gel or aerosol foams tend to dry out your face. Dove Men + Care's Total Comfort Shave Cream (3) is more moisturizing and easier to use than old-school shaving soap. Warm the jar in a few inches of hot water pre-lather.
4. Steer Clear of Open Blades
Leave the straight razor to the pros—it's a steep, bloody learning curve. Instead, grab a multi-blade cartridge model like Gillette's Fusion ProGlide Silvertouch (4), which has an isolated blade for detailing sideburns.
5. Reach for the Aftershave
"A good one can prevent bacterial growth," Conrad says. "It gets dirt out of the pores and aids the healing process." Acqua di Parma's creamy Collezione Barbiere After Shave Balm (5) has a subtle citrus scent, so you won't remind anyone of a car salesman.
6. And if You Nick
Reach for a moistened alum block (6); it tightens skin and stops bleeding fast.